New programme promotes profitability and sustainability
Improving environmental, economic and social outcomes are at the heart of an expansive new sustainability science
programme from Plant & Food Research.
The Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems programme (SAE) is an initiative that prioritises scientific research specifically aimed
at enhancing the productivity and resilience of the primary industries, while at the same time reducing environmental
The projects within the programme sit under three key research themes: Land Use Suitability, Plants for the Environment,
and Future Farming.
“The SAE research programme is taking a very strategic approach. The overarching objective is to deliver scientific
knowledge, tools and technologies that simultaneously improve the quality of our environment, increase profitability,
grow export earnings, and improve market access,” says Plant & Food Research Team Leader, Steve Thomas.
“Achieving this means the smart and sustainable use of resources, such as soil, nutrients and water; and taking into
account the ever growing complexity of the economic, social and cultural environment that farmers and growers now
“The impact of farming on our environment is under increasing scrutiny, yet the pressure to produce high-value products
and be profitable is as great as ever. There is also the need to consider and adapt to the implications of a changing
climate and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The programme is aimed at enabling New Zealand farmers and growers to sustainably produce high-value crops with the
smallest environmental footprint possible.
It is envisaged that this research will support the establishment of enhanced, environmentally considered crop
management systems that will ultimately deliver greater value and performance.
“The SAE programme is taking a scientifically robust, practical and future-focused approach, which is really important
if we are to find new and interesting ways to conquer the many challenges currently facing farmers and growers,” says
the General Manager of Plant & Food Research’s Sustainable Production portfolio, Roger Williams.
“The programme delivers to the Government’s Business Growth Agenda and is closely aligned to the Our Land and Water
National Science Challenge.”